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A Force Behind the Power

Defendant Tony C. Rudy leaves U.S. District Court in Washington after pleading guilty to charges that he conspired with GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff to corrupt public officials. Rudy was a top aide to Rep. Tom DeLay before he became a lobbyist.
Defendant Tony C. Rudy leaves U.S. District Court in Washington after pleading guilty to charges that he conspired with GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff to corrupt public officials. Rudy was a top aide to Rep. Tom DeLay before he became a lobbyist. (Lawrence Jackson - AP)

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The document continues: "During the same period, defendant RUDY routinely performed official acts for or at the behest of Abramoff and others, which were motivated in part by the things of value he received."

Rudy made his mark by wooing Republicans and fighting Democrats. Although he started out as DeLay's press secretary in 1995, he rose to become deputy chief of staff within three years. Rudy left the Hill to become a lobbyist in December 2000.

While a DeLay aide, Rudy oversaw his office's "member maintenance" operation, an elaborate concierge service that ensured GOP lawmakers had such luxuries as private cars and meals during late-night votes. Just before the 2000 Republican National Convention, he told a Washington Post reporter that it made perfect sense to shuttle lawmakers to a five-car hospitality train from Philadelphia's First Union Center. "The whole purpose of this is to treat members of Congress as kings and queens," he said.

One Republican close to DeLay's operation who asked not to be identified called Rudy "the implementer," a practical, no-nonsense aide who made sure the Texas Republican's political vision became reality.

Rudy became one of the best sources of information on the Hill, talking to lobbyists and journalists alike, and he used this power to advance causes close to DeLay's heart.

During the impeachment proceedings against President Bill Clinton, according to Peter Baker's book "The Breach," Rudy and a few others conducted an informal survey of the House Republican Conference and discovered its members were just three votes shy of impeaching the president. That unofficial count helped to persuade DeLay to squelch an effort by moderates to censure rather than impeach Clinton, a short-term conservative victory that some Republicans later blamed for their 1998 election losses.

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), a member of the Judiciary Committee who opposed Clinton's impeachment, said yesterday that Rudy's guilty plea shows "the hypocrisy" of Republicans who were eager to take down a Democratic president.

"The notion that these people were acting so indignant about Bill Clinton's sexual activities while they were preparing to loot is just despicable," Frank said, adding that while DeLay has not been implicated in Rudy's plea, he helped put the aide in contact with Abramoff.

"How did Abramoff and Rudy meet, through JDate? No, they met through DeLay," Frank said.

Research editor Lucy Shackelford contributed to this report.


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